‘Physical relationship based on marriage promise is not rape’
Sexual relationship with a woman after making false promises of marriage does not amount to rape, the Bombay High Court has ruled.
While acquitting a 42-year-old man from charge of repeatedly raping a minor girl in 1996, the Nagpur bench of the high court observed: "The story of sexual relationship under a mistaken belief and hence a rape, as developed in the process of trial, does not stand in the eye of law."
Sandeep Rathod, a resident of Kolambi village at Yavatmal, was arrested in 1996 for allegedly raping a 16-year-old girl.
The prosecution claimed that Rathod, who used to work at a forest office near the victim’s house, would often would go to over to her place for water.
On November 24, 1996, when the girl's parents and siblings were away, Rathod allegedly came to her house on the pretext of having water and allegedly raped her. He also allegedly threatened her and told her not to inform her parents.
He allegedly promised to marry her and continued to rape her for six months, the prosecution claimed.
When the girl got pregnant, her parents lodged a complaint and the man was arrested.
In 1998, after the sessions court sentenced him to 10 years of rigourous imprisonment, he challenged the sentence in the Bombay High Court.
His advocate, R.P. Joshi, argued: "The case begins with the story of rape, and develops as consented sexual relationship on mistaken belief for promise to marry."
The court observed that there was serious omission of duty on the part of the police if they claimed that the first act of sexual intercourse was forceful. The police had not lodge a complaint accordingly. "The prolonged sexual relationship, therefore, creates a strong doubt about first act too being forcible," observed Justice A.H. Joshi.